Is a VPN the same as a Firewall?

It’s a question we’re often asked and the simple answer is No, VPNs are not firewalls (and vice versa)

In the digital age, the need for robust cybersecurity strategies is more pressing than ever. Among the array of tools available, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and firewalls often surface in discussions about protecting network security. 

However, a common misconception is equating the two as interchangeable security measures. This post seeks to clarify why relying solely on a VPN for security is insufficient and how integrating a firewall can significantly enhance your organisation’s cybersecurity, especially in a remote working environment. 

Understanding the Difference: VPN vs. Firewall

What is a VPN?

A VPN is primarily designed to create a secure and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the Internet. 

The main function of a VPN is to mask your IP address, encrypt data transmission, and ensure that your internet activities remain anonymous and protected from prying eyes.

VPNs are ideal for maintaining privacy and secure communications, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks.

What is a Firewall?

In contrast, a firewall acts as a security gatekeeper between your internal network and the external world. 

It monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. 

This includes preventing unauthorised access and attacks that could exploit vulnerabilities in your network.

Why VPNs Are Not a Substitute for Firewalls

Different Functions, Different Purposes

While VPNs protect your data in transit by encryption, making it difficult for anyone to eavesdrop on your communications, they do not control what data enters or leaves your network. This is where a firewall steps in—it filters traffic based on security rules, blocking malicious data and unauthorised access attempts.

No Intrusion Detection

VPNs cannot detect or block malware, viruses, and other malicious activities. If a device connected via a VPN is already compromised, the VPN will not prevent the malware from spreading across the network. Firewalls, especially those with integrated intrusion detection systems (IDS), can identify and neutralise these threats.


While VPNs are an essential part of your cybersecurity toolkit, they are not equipped to handle all aspects of network security. Firewalls complement VPNs by providing the necessary controls and protections against various threats. 

Embracing a layered security approach that includes  VPNs and firewalls will safeguard your digital assets more effectively, ensuring peace of mind in the increasingly interconnected and remote-oriented business landscape.

By incorporating Loxada into your security strategy, you can ensure a more comprehensive defence against the evolving threats in today’s digital world, thus enhancing your overall security posture, particularly for remote work environments.